I ran across an old road map for the county where I grew up. The former railroad track that defined the west border of my Grandpa’s farm was shown on it. Based on the township lines (which were on the map) the railroad’s location was slightly off. The map showed it about a 1/4 further east than it was. The only reason I really noticed was because it changed the shape of Grandpa’s farm. There was another portion of the map that failed to indicate a triangular piece of property made by the highway and section line in another portion of the county. But then I had to remember the purpose of the road map: to generally show where roads were located so individuals could get from point […]
The home I grew up in is still standing. The homes I remember my grandparents living in are not. The home one set of paternal great-grandparents lived in and owned is lived in by a descendant. The home a maternal set of great-grandparents lived in is still standing. The others I’m not so certain of. Do you know whether the homes your various ancestors lived in are still standing yet today? Do you even know all the homes they lived in? This can be difficult to determine for those ancestors who rented properties and moved frequently. I know where two of my grandparents lived from their birth until their marriage. The other two I have a general idea where they lived, but no specific location. Those with ancestors […]
The online tree indicated the person of interest was born on a specific date in 1865 in a specific German village. To that point, my research had only uncovered a birth somewhere in Germany sometime in 1865. I was curious about the specific details and the source behind them. The “source” was the 1880 census. Now the 1880 census did suggest the person of interest was born in 1865 or 1864. The 1880 census did state the person was born in Germany. However, that census enumeration did not give the precise date or place of birth. The census was consistent with that specific information, but was not that specific itself. The census should not have been used for a source of the specific date and precise place for […]
FindAGrave memorials are like any compiled source. Many contain a significant amount of material not on the actual stone itself. Verify the information the memorial contains. Pictures of tombstones are probably reliable images of the original. Some photos make the inscription easier to read and others do not. Some photos are good, high-resolution images where magnification can enhance the readability. Others become pixilated. Transcriptions of what is on the stone can be incorrect–even when the transcription is easy to read. Supplemental information on the individual referenced on the tombstone may be correct–or it may be not. Treat that information as you would any other piece of information: verify. Some memorials have precise dates of birth and death where the stone only has a year–verify. Some memorials have a […]
Just like humans and other geographic features, cemeteries can change their names. What was used on a death certificate as the place of burial may not be what the cemetery is known as today or even several years after the burial took place. Local libraries, county historical/genealogical societies, and long-time natives of the area may be familiar with older names for cemeteries. County atlases or plat books may also refer to a cemetery by the name it was called at the time the atlas was published. A search of old newspapers for the name of the cemetery may not provide the new name but may help pinpoint the area in which it was located. A search of county histories or other out-of-copyright material on books.google.com or www.archive.org for […]
Quite a few years ago, we mentioned the use of discrepancy charts to analyze statements from different documents that provide pieces of information that disagree with each other. Looking at that chart now, there are some changes that I would make. I would add a column for the date of the document so that the table could be sorted by when the information was provided. A column for perceived reliability would be helpful as well–as long as my reason for that perception is included. Always be thinking of ways that any analytical tools you use could be improved. It’s not bad to keep thinking of ways things could be better. At the bottom of my table I add my conclusion about the information referenced in the chart–along with […]
The entry for Chapman J. Tinsley in “Virginia, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1652-1900” indicates that the will was dated on the same date it was admitted to probate. That’s not how it works. The will date is the date the will was signed by the testator. The probate date is the date it is admitted to probate by the judge of the court that handles probate matters in the relevant jurisdiction. Other reminders here are to look at the original and to find the actual book in which the item is recorded–as Ancestry references several books for this item (without a page number either). Try a GenealogyBank Genealogy Search to see what you find.
The will of an ancestor mentioned provisions for his children. The daughters all had surnames different from the testator–except for one who had the same last name as the will-writing ancestor. I assumed she was not married at the time the will was written. I was wrong. She was married. She simply married a distant cousin with the same last name as hers. For that reason her last name did not change upon her marriage and the lack of a name change made me initially assume that she was not married. If it can happen in the Tinsley family, it can certainly happen in the Smiths, Browns, or families with more common names. Try a GenealogyBank Genealogy Search to see what you find.
Many genealogists are self-taught for a variety of reasons. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as long as a person realizes that there may be gaps in their knowledge–of sources, methods, local history, culture, sociology, etc. Even genealogists that are not self-taught have gaps in their knowledge if they are willing to admit it. It never hurts to read a book or guide to the area you are researching in, even if you skim it quickly–especially if it has been a while since you have read such material. You may pick up a new thought, idea, source, or suggestion–or may even think of how you would have done the book differently. And if you find a suggestion or reference in the book that you think is wrong, double […]
Consider this your periodic reminder to digitize those photographs, especially new ones that you may have recently obtained. This image of Virgil Rampley was purchased on Ebay. Digital images of it were made as soon as I took it out of the envelope. Don’t delay making those digital images.
When an index or manual searching takes you to an ancestral entry in a census, tax, or other list entry in an original record, take times to look at the neighboring names. Are the names in rough alphabetical order? If so neighborhood clues can’t be inferred from the proximity of names. That is unless all the “B” surnames lived in the same part of the county.
It is never enough to take just one picture when at the cemetery. I try and take at least the following types of shots while there: The entire stone as a closeup–including a variety of angles if legibility is an issue. Closer closeups of any inscriptions that are unique or difficult to read. Closeups of immediately adjacent stones. An overview picture showing relative position of stone of interest to nearby stones. Do this from several angles to get all nearby stones. A broader view that shows the location of the stone within the cemetery–near large trees, mausoleums, etc. A picture of any notes I made while looking at the stone. A picture of the entrance to the cemetery with the cemetery’s name.
It’s really a math website, but it will do a variety of things that a genealogist might find helpful, including: Calculate the days between two dates–sample. Specific number of years, months, and days before a certain date–sample. Specific number of years, months, and days after a certain date–sample. What day of week a date was on (and other historical facts about that date)–sample. When a holiday was in a certain year–sample. Popularity and other information about a first name–sample. Doesn’t work so well with unusual names. Popularity and other information about a last name–sample. Doesn’t work so well with unusual names. Information on a town in a specific state–sample. Geographic conversions–sample. (Google’s good at these too) Cousinship questions–sample. Their chart isn’t the best, but it gives an idea. […]
There are a variety of ways school could give you clues to your family. Old pictures of a school a relative attended could help jog their memory of school and other events and people. Knowing where someone attended school as a child could help find the family in a census or local church records, particularly for urban ancestors. And you could always document a chronology of school attendance as well.
An uncle of mine died in the 1860s leaving no descendants and his siblings or the children of his deceased siblings as his heirs. The administrator of his estate was someone whose name I did not recognize and someone whose name also did not appear among the list of heirs. After much research, I discovered that the administrator was married to one of the daughters of an heir of the estate–making him a nephew-in-law. I had initially thought he was a creditor of the deceased as those individuals sometimes get appointed to settle up the estate. That was not the case here as the administrator’s name did not appear on the list of individuals to whom my recently deceased uncle owed money. He was a relative by marriage […]
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